Tag: Patryk Wysocki

2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #50-41

This year was a pivotal year for Polish hockey. For many players that frequented the list last year or in the years past it was onto full-time professional hockey in Poland or testing their skills in another countries highest junior league, while plenty of players arose to challenge and cemented themselves as future pillars of the national team plenty of players couldn’t live up to their expectations causing drastic changes to the rankings.

This is not the time I wanted to start the list, as the World Championship and U18 World Championship are a great way for players to improve their stock, the U18 World Championship being the first significant exposure for a lot of players. Due to the coronavirus, there are no more tournaments, and hockey is done for the year. Polish hockey itself faces an uncertain future as the virus will leave a lasting effect for years to come.

The real world is a very dark and scary place right now, but I want to look forward to the future while stuck at home. The future of the Polish national team is something that fans should be excited about. I have maintained for years that Poland has more young talent right now then it did any other time this century. I still stand by that opinion today. Poland saw their ace prospect prove himself in professional North American hockey, another NHL draft prospect rise, and a vast increase in depth. Today we start our ranking of the top 50 Men’s U23 players in Poland.

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on March 27th, 2020. Players are judged based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. While a majority of the ranking is my own opinion, numerous people in the Polish hockey world contributed their thoughts on players. 140 players were considered for the list and scouted. 80 players received a ranking, players 80-51 will be revealed at the end of the series in the breakdown article. Only the top 50 players receive a scouting report.

Honorable Mentions (In No Order): Adrian Gromadzki (Not eligible due to age, but would have made top 50 if old enough), Bartosz Woloszyk, Adrian Duszak, Wiktor Bochnak, and Patryk Gosztyla

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2019, change in ranking)

50 – Patryk Wysocki (D), 21, Antwerp Phantoms, (16, -34)

We start this year’s list off with a major fall. Wysocki started the year in the top Russian junior league with ORG Junior Beijing. The promising stay at home defensemen finished last season with the Chinese junior team that plays in the top Russia junior league after being recruited by Andrei Parfenov, the former head coach of the Polish junior program. Parfenov took a job in the VHL for the 2020 season. While new head coach Yevgeni Yesaulov gave him a chance, in the beginning, the 5’11 Gdansk product eventually disappeared from the lineup.  He played his last game for the team on October 10th, where he played just under six minutes. In early December, he showed up in the Belgium league, recording four assists in 14 games for the Antwerp Phantoms. A step back year for a defenseman that is good enough to be at the top level, but not enough to secure a permanent spot.

49 – Kacper Gruzla (F), 20, MOSM Tychy (Unranked)

Gruzla makes his debut on the list after a promising performance at the U20 World Championship and solid junior league season. Gruzla posted two goals for Poland, one an empty netter,  at the U20 World Championship. He also made his senior debut for GKS Tychy, along with playing in the PHL for PZHL U23. In 15 PHL games, he posted both a goal and assist. His best offensive success came with Mosm Tychy, where he recorded 22 goals and 19 assists in 26 games in Poland’s MHL, which was eighth in the league. Lots of flashes of potential, but he is someone who needs to play against stronger talent more.

48 – Szymon Radzieńciak (D), 20, HC Ocelari Trinec U20, (66, +18)

Radzieńciak is mirroring the development of his brother Grzegorz Radzieńciak. While his brother Grzegorz has flashed more of a two-way game, Radzieńciak is more one dimensional with defensive being his specialty. The 6’2 defensemen represented Poland at the 2018 U18s and was under consideration for a spot on this year’s U20 squad. The long time HC Ocelari Trinec junior player had two assists in 30 DHL games, along with appearing in two games for the PZHL U23 squad.

47 – Mateusz Zieliński (D), 23, KH Torun, (70, +23)

Zieliński took a big jump this year, becoming a larger part of the KH Torun defense. Coming into this season, Zieliński had 11 points in his previous 125 PHL games, this year in 50 games, the 6’0 defensemen had 12 points (3-9-12). This was second among all U23 defensemen for points. He played more and more than handled that challenge, especially as Torun tested plenty of import defensemen that he was able to outplay.

Zieliński

46 – Igor Augustyniak (F), 19, Cracovia Kraków, (59, +13)

Augustyniak moved to the Krakow program this year after spending his entire junior career with Polonia Bytom. In his first year with Krakow, he was able to play more in the PHL, recording six games with Krakow, along with playing nine games for PZHL U23, where he recorded a goal and an assist. This came on top of a great junior league season, where Augustyniak posted 34 points (21-13-34) in 21 games, tied for twelfth in the league. The 5’9 forward should have a strong chance at making Poland’s U20 squad next year.

45 – Szymon Dobosz (F), 18, UKS Sanok, (43, -2)

Dobosz is one of the players that probably suffered the most from the cancellation of the U18s, as he would have no doubt been a leader on that squad. At an earlier U18 tournament in Hungary, he recorded four points (1-3-4) in three games. This year his season was split between PZHL U23, along with both Sanok’s U20 team and their Sovak second Liga team. In the PZHL U23, he recorded one assist in seven games. In Slovakia, he recorded eight points (4-4-8) in 16 games, down from 14 points last year. In limited U20 action, the career Sanok junior player recorded 15 points (8-7-15) in nine games. Dobosz already received U20 squad consideration this year, so I would say he has an outside chance at making it next year.

44 – Marcel Kotuła (G), 19, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (79, +35)

Last year I feel I didn’t give enough credit to goaltenders on the list, and I wanted to change that for this year. Statistics really don’t paint young goalies in a good light in Poland, given they face 40 plus shots in PZHL U23 games. Kotuła was a victim of that posting a .829 sv% in eight games with PZHL U23. When not on loan to the Polish U23 squad, he was much better. He saved 16 out of 17 shots against Janow in his lone PHL game for Sosnowiec this year and posted a .912 sv% in 18 U20 league games. His .912 sv% was the best among goalies with at least ten matches. He received some U20 squad consideration this season and most likely will have a spot on the squad in 2020.

Kotula

43 – Michał Zając (F), 19, Polonia Bytom, (67, +24)

Zając had a great year despite not being able to log minutes for a club in the PHL. In ten games with PZHL U23, he posted 4 points (2-2-4). In a season where PZHL U23 didn’t have many consistent offensive options, this was tied for third on the team in scoring. He also appeared on the Poland U18 team that plays in the Czech third-tier u20 league, where he posted eight points (5-3-8) in seven games. He also played for Polonia Bytom in Poland’s MHL recording another eight points (3-5-8) in ten games. He had some early U20 consideration and should be a strong candidate for next season. He is a good goal scorer, but a lot of his game needs refinement.

42 – Maciej Miarka (G), 19, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (51, +9)

The main reason why Miarka is rising this year is me wanting to give goalies more credit, but I would call this a season Miarka might just want to bury and forget. It seemed no matter where the Lodz native went, he was lit up with not much help. He posted a .847 sv% for PZHL U23 in ten games as the team’s main goalie. Then at the U20 World Championship, in back-up duty, Miarka posted a .775 SV%, Poland needed a third-string with how bad he and Lipinski performed. In his two junior games, he posted a .891 sv% allowing 8 goals in two games. His lone bright spot came in five third-tier Czech U20 league games, where he posted .092 GAA. A season to forget for a very young and talented goalie who showed how promising they are at the U18 level previously.

41 – Armen Khoperia (D), 20, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (32, -9)

Armen Khoperia dropped in the rankings through nothing of his own fault, just the inject of new talent and players making larger jumps. Khoperia had a great year becoming a full-time PHL defenseman at just 19-years-old. In 38 games between PZHL U23 and Zaglebie Sosnowiec, with a majority coming with Sosnowiec, the 6’2 defensemen posted four points (1-3-4). Khoperia is really developing well and should start working his way towards becoming a member of the senior national team. He represented Poland at the U20 World Championships this year, posting two assists in five games.

Khoperia

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Top Ten in Polish Hockey With The Most To Prove in 2020

The final day of 2019 is here, and it has been up and down and down year for Polish hockey. The upsides have been on the women’s side, young talent, and the PHL becoming a much more competitive league. The downsides have been on the Men’s senior team and continued backstage messes and drama. We had an article on New Year’s Eve looking at who had the best years in 2019, but today lets look at who needs to rebound after some rough patches in 2019.

Honorable Mentions: Cracovia Krakow, Kasper Bryniczka, Michael Luba, Patrik Spesny, and Risto Dufva

10. Ernest Bochnak

Bochnak saw himself left off an IIHF Polish junior squad once again. He made the Polish U18 squad in his first season of eligibility. He has yet to make a roster since, and his time is up. It is shocking to me that he was never able to get on a roster after his initial U18 appearance, where he recorded three goals and one assist. This year he was able to play professional games in both the second and third Czech leagues. Bochnak is an outstanding junior player, and he’ll find himself on a senior roster, I’m sure of it.

9. Patryk Wronka

Wronka had an outstanding 2018-19 season in the PHL and used that to sign in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) with the Belfast Giants. The highly skilled player got off to a hot start recording two goals and one assist in six Champion League Hockey games, as well as six assists in seven EIHL Cup games. That production did not carry into the regular season, and he only recorded eight points (4-4-8) in 24 games before mutually parting ways with the Giants. Now Wronka has a fresh start with Rapaces deGap of the Synerglace Ligue Magnus. In his first three games in the French league, he has four goals and one assist. Wronka is insanely talented, the EIHL just wasn’t a fit for him. In 2020 he needs to prove that.

8. Jacek Szopinski

Jacek Szopinski has been the head coach of both Orlik Opole and Naprzod Janow over the past two years. These clubs are complete clown shows. Both teams are very uncompetitive. Now Szopinski is not responsible for their financial situation. He is responsible for lying to players, bashing players to other coaches and teams, as well as being regarded as a difficult coach to deal with. Szopinski simply needs to shape up and act like a coach should or get out of the PHL.

7. Zaglebie Sosnowiec

Zaglebie Sosnowiec showed a lot of promise last year in their first season back in the PHL after two final losses in the second league. This year with a full offseason to prepare, they signed the big Russian trio that propelled KH Torun to a strong season. The Russian trio has not been able to replicate their production, and some young players did not take as big of steps that were needed. Now going into 2020, they sit just above Janow in the standings. If the team doesn’t improve, a lot of big changes are going to be needed.

6. Sebastian Lipinski

Sebastian Lipinski looked to have the title of Poland’s best goaltending prospect on lock. In 2018, he had a great performance at the U20 World Championship and led PZHL u23 to their first win. In 2019, he had a disastrous U20 World Championship run and endured an up and down PHL year. His 2019 does include two shutouts as well as some flashes of brilliance in the net. Lipinski has to become more consistent in 2020.

5. Patryk Wysocki 

I had Wysocki ranked as my sixteenth best U23 Polish player to end last year. The Belarusian born defensemen had been able to play professionally in Belarus and Poland, while also appearing in the top Russian junior league the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL). This year he started in the MHL once again with the Chinese junior club but left his team after playing only ten games and receiving very limited ice time. His final game in China took place in October. Wysocki wouldn’t play another hockey game till December when he popped up in the BeNe League, a lower European league composed of teams from Belgium and the Netherlands. There he has two points in four games. It is an odd choice for him, and there isn’t enough information to guess a reason why his season has gone as it has, but he still remains one of Poland’s most developed defensive players for his age.

4. Piotr Sarnik 

Piotr Sarnik led the U20 team to a poor performance at the 2019 Division 1B U20 World Championships, but that wasn’t even his biggest challenge at the time. Risto Dufva left GKS Katowice in November to take a job in Finland, leaving behind a GKS Katowice that had not lived up to expectations. Sarnik is now tasked with giving a team identity that doesn’t have one in a PHL that is more competitive than ever. It is going to be quite a challenge for the young coach.

3. GKS Katowice

As mentioned in the last entry, Katowice is supposed to be up there with GKS Tychy. In the past seasons, they seemed to just always be one step behind GKS Tychy. This year GKS Katowice already has as many regulation losses as they did in the last two seasons combined. The season has also been very hard injury-wise with only eight players managing to play all 32 games so far this year. Katowice also released Radosław Sawicki early in the year, and Sawicki currently sits seventh in league scoring. Before the new year, Martin Cakajik left the team after two and a half seasons.GKS Katowice is going to need to regroup fast.

2. Men’s Senior Team

After being demoted to D1B for the first time since 2014, it was only expected to be a one year stop. That was not the case as Poland has continually struggled during 2019, never once show any signs of promise. 2019 saw more players retire or currently suspend their national team career. The team’s depth has taken quite the hit with younger talents not being ready to jump in. They’ll have two big chances at the Olympics Qualifiers and D1B World Championships to prove this team and staff have potential. If neither chances are successful drastic actions will have to be taken.

1. Tomek Valtonen

Simply put, it is sink or swim time. Everything that was a pro about Valtonen never came to fruition. There is some blame on both the coach and the PZHL. What he can control though, he has done poorly, so either win or leave time.

2019 Top 50 Polish Men’s U23 Players. #16-13

Despite all that seems to go wrong in Polish hockey the light at the end of the tunnel has been the amount of great young talent that Poland has in their system right now. This is the deepest depth of young talent Poland has had this century. Regardless of what happens in regards to management and coaching with the talent that Poland has coming, they should be able to push forward. In this list, I wanted to rank Poland’s young talent to create a better picture of what the future look likes. This is part 2 of the series as we look at the players ranked 16 through 13.

Players 50-45     Players 26-21

Players 44-39     Players 20-17

Players 38-33

Players 32-27

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team

#16 – Patryk Wysocki (D), 20, KRS Heilongjiang. At just 19-years-old, Wysocki has already played hockey in Belarus, China, and Poland. He played in Poland and Belarus on the professional level in each country’s top league. In China, he appeared in the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL). The MHL is the top level of junior hockey in Russia. Wysocki moved to China midseason after being recruited by Andrei Parfenov. Wysocki is a defensive first guy and able to read the game well. He isn’t overly physical but does not shy away from it either. He will be able to play a lot of minutes, clog up shooting lanes, and disrupt passing lanes.

He was ready to play professional hockey starting at the age of 17 in Belarus, which is quite the feat. He was the only U18 defensemen in the league for the 2016-17 season, that was not a part of Team Belarus U20. The following season, Wysocki returned to Poland to play for MH Automatyka Gdansk, recording 2 assists in 38 games. For 2018-19, he moved to a stronger club in GKS Katowice but spent a lot of time with PZHL U23. He had 3 assists in 39 PHL games before moving over to KRS Heilongjiang.

In China, he had 2 goals and 2 assists in 20 games. His first goal in the MHL was actually his first goal since the 2016-17 U18s. KRS Heilongjiang was struggling hard and no single player could save the team, but Wysocki was able to come in and play some large minutes for the team. There he averaged 21:57 minutes a game. That is the 4th most among defensemen on the team and 11th most in the league (min 10 games played).

Wysocki

Wysocki like other top 4 defensemen on KRS Heilongjiang was put into a tough a role with harsh minutes and almost constantly being under siege. Usually, that is something I feel wouldn’t benefit a player at all, but considering Wysocki’s skill set it gave him the most chances to practice it. It will be interesting to see what is next for Wysocki as his options are pretty open. His former Head Coach in GKS Katowice said in an interview to Hokej.net, “If he wants to, maybe I’ll be able to get him to North America next season.” So far no announcements have been made by GKS Katowice, who did expect him to return to the team after the MHL season had finished. Katowice haven’t announced a new contract with the defenseman. They also added national team defensemen, Oskar Jaskiewicz and Patryk Wajda. Considering part of the reason he left for a chance in China was minutes, I wouldn’t imagine he returns to GKS Katowice.

#15 – Maciej Witan (F), 18, KH 58 Sanok. Sanok’s favorite son is also one of the top forward prospects in Poland. Witan is an incredible offensive talent and he needs to be on bigger stages than what he has played on. Witan has been one of the best players for Poland at the U18s. This year, he had 6 goals and 9 assists in 5 games. He had 9 points (5G, 4A) last year at the U18s. His two performances actually made him all-time leading scorer for Poland U18 at IIHF events.

In terms of professional and junior teams, Witan has dominated there offensively as well. In Poland’s U20 league, the 5’8 forward posted 16 goals and 22 assists in 17 games. Witan has played the last two seasons in the 3rd tier of Slovakian hockey with KH 58 Sanok. There he has 31 points (13G, 18A) in 35 games. It’s not a league where many U18 players play and Witan is the all-time leading U18 scorer for the league. There are only 16 U18 players though with at least 10 games played. There is simply no doubt that Witan has the skill to be a great player, but he has to be tested against better talents. He was able to get 3 PHL games in last year as well putting up one assist. To even really judge him as a prospect or a player I need to see him against tougher talents. If he is not going to go abroad to play he needs to be in the PHL next year. There is nothing left for him to gain in Sanok.

#14 – Sebastian Brynkus (F), 18, Cracovia Krakow. Brynkus had quite the blow up this season. A year ago, he only got 2 games in at the U18s, then had 2 points in 19 games with SMS U20 Katowice. It was a kinda situation where he was outshined by other players and maybe couldn’t get the best opportunities because of that. When I interviewed David Leger, the former head juniors coach, Brynkus was a player he brought up unprompted as a part of Poland’s future core. Brynkus proved that to be true this year.

After only getting 2 IIHF games with team Poland last year, Brynkus had 10 this year after being named to both the U20 and U18 national teams. At the U20 stage, he was one of the best players on the team and the led team in goals with 4. He then returned to the U18s and just slaughtered his competition with 4 goals and 12 assists. He led the tournament in assists and points. His 16 points were also a Divison 2 Group A record for points in a single tournament. Brynkus also played full time in the PHL this year and not just with PZHL U23. He recorded 36 games with Cracovia Krakow and played 6 games in their run to the PHL finals. Brynkus was the only U18 player to play a regular role in the PHL this year. He didn’t score like past top U18 players who got that opportunity had, but that may just be the result of Cracovia not having the same ice time chances.

Like I mentioned with Lukasz Kaminski, there should be increased roles for them in Cracovia. He is a guy who always is in the right spot and able to get open. He has great patience and that aids his good shot when it comes to beating goalies with ease. He can also be quite the set-up man as well.

#13 – Oskar Jaskiewicz (D), 23, GKS Katowice. The oldest player on the list and certainly currently the best U23 defensemen. Jaskiewicz is a two-way defenseman that is strongest on the defensive end. He has quite the shot as well. He loves to pinch up on plays in the offensive zone. He has been allowed to make the mistakes that a player really needs to just experience over years of professional hockey that have him ready for almost any situation. Valtonen credited him as the defensive leader on Podhale this past season.

He has pretty much been a full-time defenseman in the PHL since he was 17. Only four other non-junior team players have been able to play at least 20 games in the PHL at such a young age. This includes national team legend Adam Borzecki, and current national team defensemen Bartlomiej Bychawski. Since then he has played 272 games in the PHL recording 31 goals and 51 assists. That is the most points recorded ever by a u23 defensemen in Poland. He made his senior IIHF debut this year at the World Championships.

Jaskiewicz has already secured his spot on team Poland for his career and if he stopped developing he would still be a really good player. He left Podhale this offseason and was originally considering options in North America. He instead signed a two-year contract with GKS Katowice. Part of the reason, he signed in Katowice is to continue learning under a Finnish coach and especially a great coach like Risto Dufva. Dufva is an amazing coach based on his career accomplishments and I’m curious to see what he can do with Jaskiewicz development wise.

Players 12-10

Players 9-8

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